Whose tune is Poland dancing to?

27 May

‘Your pain is better than mine!’.  So runs the refrain of the number one song in Poland at the moment. It’s a song that has caused a ferocious political backlash. Sounding more like a folksy beer hall tune than protest anthem, it has proved an astonishing and immediate success, reaching number one in the influential […]

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After Brexit, Britain’s farmers must come first

19 May

Tories were rebels once. And in morphing from Franco-Scottish, krypto-Catholic revolutionaries to Anglican English conservatives, they found a way to express both their patriotism and their independence: by the eating of beef. Beef stood for courage, manliness and the fighting spirit; indeed, as Ben Rogers mentions in his sparkling book on the subject, Georgian British […]

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The return of every man for himself

20 Apr

Whatever happened to self-reliance? At school in the Eighties I don’t remember teamwork ever being greatly valued. Even on the sports field it was the individual who mattered. One enduring memory that reinforces this notion is of an away cricket match against a school that boasted the Test Match Special commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins’s son Robin […]

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Could Italy tear Europe apart?

10 Apr

Europe is heading into its most severe economic crisis for decades. Its two biggest economies — Germany and France — are already in freefall. Germany is contracting at its fastest pace since records began, in 1970, while in France you would need to return to the chaotic days of 1968 to find a slump that […]

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The BBC is having a good coronavirus war

23 Mar

Some optimists say that the current crisis might bring out the best in us. These sunny souls are invoking the re-emergence of the “Blitz spirit” of the Second World War, when the country displayed what we like to think of as our true national character: stoicism, generosity and fortitude in the face of adversity, all […]

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We don’t deserve our wretched media class

16 Mar

The Times, this morning: “Boris Johnson will attempt to wrest back control of the coronavirus crisis today after No 10 was stung by criticism of its performance and the death toll rose to 35.” One small sentence, of the sort your eye glides over daily by the bucketload in our wonderful British press. Let’s take […]

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We don’t deserve our wretched media class

16 Mar

The Times, this morning: “Boris Johnson will attempt to wrest back control of the coronavirus crisis today after No 10 was stung by criticism of its performance and the death toll rose to 35.” One small sentence, of the sort your eye glides over daily by the bucketload in our wonderful British press. Let’s take […]

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Ten woke ways to shut down debate

10 Mar

Suppressing free speech has a long and bloody history. To see how violence and intimidation can be used to silence opponents, just look at the record of any tyrannical regime that’s ever existed. And then there are more subtle methods. ‘Cancel culture’ is spoken of as if it were something new. It isn’t. You don’t […]

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Why conservatism is doomed

9 Mar

I had mixed feelings about the election result last December. On the one hand, I wouldn’t be working on a collective farm along with all the other useless intellectuals who had displeased our new communist masters. On the other, I had a book coming out arguing that conservatism was doomed, and here they were, winning […]

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The cringe of conservative celebrity-worship

9 Mar

Ah, celebrities. It’s not enough that they are rich, famous, beautiful, and have servants who do their shopping for them. No; haunted by a sense of their own triviality, they feel compelled to pose as activists, to share their deep thinks, which are almost always relentlessly conformist woke platitudes. Indeed, so common is this phenomenon […]

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‘Noughts + Crosses’ is an ugly work about racism

6 Mar

‘Timeless’ used to be a commonly heard term to describe great works of art. If a piece of theatre or cinema transcended the era in which it was created, then it was for the ages and could be recognised as potentially great. Its opposites are obvious: works that date, are of their time or passé. […]

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The absurd melodrama of modern soaps

26 Feb

Let’s compare and contrast two women with eventful lives. Elsie Tanner — a long-time resident of a small street in the Manchester suburb of Weatherfield — worked as a seamstress, with occasional stints at other jobs. She was married three times. Her first husband abandoned her and their two young children; her second, an American […]

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